Djibouti votes as president Guelleh seeks a 5th term

Djibouti votes as president Guelleh seeks a 5th term
Djibouti’s President Ismael Omar Guelleh casts his ballot during the presidential elections at the Ras-Dika district polling center in Djibouti, April 9, 2021. (Reuters)
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Updated 10 April 2021

Djibouti votes as president Guelleh seeks a 5th term

Djibouti votes as president Guelleh seeks a 5th term
  • Critics call the president a heavy-handed dictator, but others in Djibouti see him as a driving force in the country’s development and relative stability
  • More than 205,000 people are registered to vote in Djibouti, which has a population of over 600,000 — the country is a mix of ethnic Somali, Afar and Arab

MOGADISHU, Somalia: The Horn of African country of Djibouti went to the polls peacefully on Friday as President Ismail Omar Guelleh seeks a fifth term in the small but strategically important nation home to military bases for the United States, China and others.
The 73-year-old Guelleh faces just one challenger, the independent candidate and businessman Zakaria Ismail Farah, who halted campaigning early while asserting that he could not do so in safety. In protest, he appeared with his mouth taped shut.
The other opposition boycotted the vote. Final results are expected on Saturday. There was a heavy police presence around the polls.
Critics call the president a heavy-handed dictator, but others in Djibouti see him as a driving force in the country’s development and relative stability. The country is located on the Red Sea along one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
Guelleh has been in power since 1999 after the death of his predecessor, Hassan Guled Aptidon, the country’s first president. Djibouti won independence from France in 1977.
The president is widely expected to win another team that should be his last, according the constitution, which limits the presidency to those under the age of 75.
Guelleh told reporters days ago that he was no longer interested in power but was merely responding to the will of the people.
“It is my people, the Djiboutians, who asked me to run again and not leave them for the sake of the prosperity of the nation,” he said.
After voting, the president said, “May God be praised, it happened in a peaceful way and thank God, the people have participated in a very good way.”
More than 205,000 people are registered to vote in Djibouti, which has a population of over 600,000. The country is a mix of ethnic Somali, Afar and Arab.
“In a beautiful way we’re appreciating the voting, every vote and every five years, and today it happened in a beautiful way,” said one person at the polls, Naima Yusuf Kahin.


WFA’s Planet Pledge pushes marketers to act on climate change

WFA’s Planet Pledge pushes marketers to act on climate change
Updated 16 min 13 sec ago

WFA’s Planet Pledge pushes marketers to act on climate change

WFA’s Planet Pledge pushes marketers to act on climate change
  • Global campaign will see 17 major multinationals commit to driving change both internally and among consumers 

DUBAI: Four major multinationals, including drinks companies Asahi Europe & International, Carlsberg Group and Pernod Ricard as well as IKEA, have joined 13 other major multinationals in the World Federation of Advertisers’ Planet Pledge, a global commitment to making marketing teams a force for positive change both internally and with the consumers who buy their products and services.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nO0FAMv-jN8&t=1s

The four new companies join signatories Bayer, Danone, Diageo, Dole Packaged Foods, Mastercard, Orsted, Reckitt, Telefonica, Tesco and Unilever as well as L’Oreal, NatWest and PepsiCo. in using the power of marketing to drive action on climate change.

Alongside the multinationals, 22 national advertiser associations in various countries have committed to promoting the pledge to local advertisers, highlighting the role marketing can play in delivering change and creating a network of local champions around the world.

“I am delighted that these four companies and so many of our national association partners have signed up to the Planet Pledge,” said WFA CEO Stephan Loerke.

“In light of the recent UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report, which lays bare the challenge of climate change, it’s vital that our members commit to not only reducing their impact but also to educate consumers about how they can have an impact, too,” he added.

Planet Pledge was launched at WFA’s Global Marketer Week in April this year and seeks to find a clear role for marketing as a positive force for environmental change by encouraging chief marketing officers to take action in four key areas:

Commit to being a champion, both internally within their organizations and by encouraging their marketing supply chain to do the same, for the global “Race to Zero” campaign, which encourages “businesses, cities, regions, and investors for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth,” according to the UN.

Scale the capability of marketing organizations to lead for climate action by providing tools and guidance for their marketers and agencies.

Harness the power of their marketing communications to drive more sustainable consumer behaviors.

Reinforce a trustworthy marketing environment, where sustainability claims can be easily substantiated so that consumers can trust the marketing messages they are presented with.

The WFA will track and report progress on all these goals on an annual basis. It will also work with advertising standards bodies worldwide and other relevant stakeholders to deliver industry guidance that will preserve trust in the evolving language of environmental claims in a way that enables consumers to make sustainable choices.

The pledge is designed to amplify the association’s existing efforts and direct its members and their value chain partners toward them. In addition, it introduces new actions that marketing leaders can initiate and champion.

“Addressing climate change can seem complex, but marketing teams have the skills to make it easier for everyone to understand how they can make a real difference. Joining the WFA Planet Pledge is a serious statement of intent. We look forward to more brands signing up in the future and seeing how marketers can take the lead on addressing the world’s most pressing challenge,” added Loerke.


Lebanon signs central bank audit contract with A&M

Lebanon signs central bank audit contract with A&M
Updated 47 min 1 sec ago

Lebanon signs central bank audit contract with A&M

Lebanon signs central bank audit contract with A&M
  • The audit is a key requirement for Lebanon to secure foreign aid

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s finance minister Youssef Khalil on Friday signed a new contract with restructuring consultancy Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) to carry out a forensic audit at the country’s central bank, the ministry said in a statement.
A&M will give an initial report to the ministry within 12 weeks of its team starting work, the ministry said.
Lebanon is suffering one of the deepest economic depressions in modern history. Three-quarters of its population is now classified as poor by the United Nations and the local currency has lost 90 percent of its value in the past two years.
The plan for an audit, a key requirement for Lebanon to secure foreign aid amid its financial meltdown, hit a roadblock in November when A&M withdrew, saying it had not received the information it needed from the central bank.
Parliament then agreed in December to lift banking secrecy for one year, amid much back-and-forth between Lebanese officials including the ministry and the central bank over whether certain information could be disclosed.
The finance ministry said in April the central bank had agreed to hand over some documents.
Khalil, a former top central bank official, was appointed finance minister as part of a new cabinet cobbled together by Prime Minister Najib Mikati and President Michel Aoun after a year of political deadlock that has compounded the country’s economic meltdown.
Mikati’s cabinet has said it was committed to a resumption of talks with the International Monetary Fund, pre-conditions for which include a restructuring of the banking sector and public debt.
Last year’s IMF talks were derailed when politicians and bankers disputed the scale of financial losses mapped out in a financial recovery plan drawn up by the then government.


Houthi militia group arrested for assassination plot on government military officials

Houthi militia group arrested for assassination plot on government military officials
Updated 53 min 4 sec ago

Houthi militia group arrested for assassination plot on government military officials

Houthi militia group arrested for assassination plot on government military officials

LONDON: Police in Yemen's province of Marib arrested a group of Houthi militia planning to bomb public places with the aim to assassinate government military officials, state news agency Saba reported on Thursday.
The commander of Special Forces in Marib Brig. Gen. Saleem Al-Sayyaghi told Saba that a cache of explosives and maps of bomb sites were seized in possession of the Houthi members.
Initial investigations, he said, revealed that those arrested “steered by the Iran-backed Houthi militia” and were tasked with bombing civilian crowds and military leaders.

Sayyaghi claimed that the plot comes as the militia failed to take Marib in the battlefield despite sending fighters towards the army positions over the past months.  


Wataniya Insurance board recommends $53.3m capital increase

Wataniya Insurance board recommends $53.3m capital increase
Updated 17 September 2021

Wataniya Insurance board recommends $53.3m capital increase

Wataniya Insurance board recommends $53.3m capital increase
  • Proceeds to help boost solvency margin

RIYADH: Wataniya Insurance Company’s board of directors recommended on Thursday to increase the company’s capital through a SR200 million ($53.3 million) rights issue, according to a bourse filing.

The company plans to use the proceeds to support its future plans and increase its solvency margin, Wataniya said in a statement on Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul). An insurer’s solvency margin is the difference between its assets and insurance liabilities and is designed to prepare it for unforeseen claims.

The financial adviser for the offering will be announced once appointed, the company said.


Chinese astronauts return after 90 days aboard space station

Chinese astronauts return after 90 days aboard space station
Updated 17 September 2021

Chinese astronauts return after 90 days aboard space station

Chinese astronauts return after 90 days aboard space station
  • The three astronauts emerged about 30 minutes later and were seated in reclining chairs just outside the capsule
  • State broadcaster CCTV showed footage of the spacecraft parachuting to land in the Gobi Desert

BEIJING: A trio of Chinese astronauts returned to Earth on Friday after a 90-day stay aboard their nation’s first space station in China’s longest mission yet.
Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo landed in the Shenzhou-12 spaceship just after 1:30 p.m. (0530 GMT) after having undocked from the space station Thursday morning.
State broadcaster CCTV showed footage of the spacecraft parachuting to land in the Gobi Desert where it was met by helicopters and off-road vehicles. Minutes later, a crew of technicians began opening the hatch of the capsule, which appeared undamaged.
The three astronauts emerged about 30 minutes later and were seated in reclining chairs just outside the capsule to allow them time to readjust to Earth’s gravity after three months of living in a weightless environment. The three were due to fly to Beijing on Friday.
“With China’s growing strength and the rising level of Chinese technology, I firmly believe there will even more astronauts who will set new records,” mission commander Nie told CCTV.
After launching on June 17, the three astronauts went on two spacewalks, deployed a 10-meter (33-foot) mechanical arm, and had a video call with Communist Party leader Xi Jinping.
While few details have been made public by China’s military, which runs the space program, astronaut trios are expected to be brought on 90-day missions to the station over the next two years to make it fully functional.
The government has not announced the names of the next set of astronauts nor the launch date of Shenzhou-13.
China has sent 14 astronauts into space since 2003, when it became only the third country after the former Soviet Union and the United States to do so on its own.
China’s space program has advanced at a measured pace and has largely avoided many of the problems that marked the US and Russian programs that were locked in intense competition during the heady early days of spaceflight.
That has made it a source of enormous national pride, complementing the country’s rise to economic, technological, military and diplomatic prominence in recent years under the firm rule of the Communist Party and current leader Xi Jinping.
China embarked on its own space station program in the 1990s after being excluded from the International Space Station, largely due to US objections to the Chinese space program’s secrecy and military backing.
China has simultaneously pushed ahead with uncrewed missions, placing a rover on the little-explored far side of the Moon and, in December, the Chang’e 5 probe returned lunar rocks to Earth for the first time since the 1970s.
China this year also landed its Tianwen-1 space probe on Mars, with its accompanying Zhurong rover venturing out to look for evidence of life.
Another program calls for collecting samples from an asteroid, an area in which Japan’s rival space program has made progress of late.
China also plans to dispatch another mission in 2024 to bring back lunar samples and is pursuing a possible crewed mission to the moon and eventually building a scientific base there, although no timeline has been proposed for such projects. A highly secretive space plane is also reportedly under development.